erik lundegaard

Politics posts

Sunday January 22, 2017

Day 1: A View from Inside the Women's March

I felt better yesterday than I have at any time since Nov. 8, 2016, when Donald Trump, with the help of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and FBI director James Comey, as well as 63 million sad excuses for Americans, won the presidency. Yesterday was his first full day in office. So why did I feel great? 

This:

Womens March, Seattle, Jan. 21, 2017

That's from inside the march. You can see great, overhead, footage from King 5 TV here.  

Shot of Women's March, Seattle, January 21, 2017

I'd heard there were going to be a march, a women's march, but initially I wasn't thinking of going. I thought it was their thing. But Patricia was going with her friends Sullivan and Melanie, and Ward, so I jumped. Any chance at protesting that fuck. 

You got a sense it was going to be big even as we stepped outside the Old Colony at 9:15 a.m., Patricia, Ward and I, waiting for our neighbors, Adam and Justin, so the five of us could walk to the starting point, Judgkins Park, nearly two miles away. Because there were already folks walking past us in their pink pussy hats and their homemade protest signs. Again: the staring point was two miles and two hours away. And the closer we got the more people we picked up, until it was a near protest march just walking to the protest march. We camped out on the south side of the park, as Adam and Justin went to hook up with friends at the skate park there. Though phone/text reception was almost nonexistent due to the crowds all phoning and texting each other, Patricia managed to get word out to Sullivan where we were, and she and Melanie arrived about 10 minutes prior to the offical start of the march, and when people began to move we moved, too.

We left the park on Ingersoll, about six blocks south of Jackson, where the real march proper began, and it looked like a good move ... until halfway through Ingersoll, when everything just stopped. For a long time. The edges of the crowd flowed a little better, so we went along there, then went off the official parade route to other residential streets. Some part of me was assuming a Seattle moment at the logjam: someone ahead of us, politely waving everyone else in. But it was just the size of the march. There were just too many people.

What a beautiful feeling. 

When we finally made it onto Jackson, it was a sight to behold: huge throngs of people filling the street ahead of us; huge throngs of people filling the street behind us; the pussy hats everywhere. We were in the middle of the beast, so we couldn't fathom the size of the beast. It went as far as we could see in either direction. It didn't seem to have a start or an end, just a mass. Which we were part of. This. This was our power. 

I didn't have a sign. Justin and Adam made some, and, of theirs, Ward chose the cheetos sign with NOPE on it, and a pink sign with a uterus and the phrase NONE OF MY FUCKING BUSINESS. P had the cheetos sign. I didn't have any, figuring I'd spell Patricia occasionally, which I did, but all the great handmade signs I saw (we have the artists on our side, yo) made me wonder what I've would put on a sign:

JAMES COMEY CAN GO FUCK HIMSELF

Too angry. 

COMEY AIN'T MY HOMEY

Too cute. 

I liked all of the signs that made reference to Trump's Russian alliances. That shit's unforgivable. I'd like signs that shame the patriots who support Trump, and the Christians who support Trump. But I thiink I would've gone with something like this:

STOP THE BULLSHIT

Then I'd include the names of the worst media offenders: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Matt Drudge. We only have two media in this country: corporate media and right-wing media. But the right-wing media keeps claiming we have a “liberal media,” which, in turn, makes the corporate media turn ever more to the right. You couldn't get a Trump without this dynamic. And if this dynamic stays the same even after Trump, we'll get something like Trump again. Or worse. 

The march route went down Jackson, through the interntional district, and then up 4th into downtown. We stopped off at a very harried Starbucks for coffee (buy local), then kept going, all the way to the end, the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, where people hung out on the grass, in the drizzle, or went their separate ways. P, Sullivan and Melanie went to find a bar, I stuck around a bit, ran into a few more friends, watched the crowds just stream in and stream in. It was never-ending and beautiful.

I've seen estimates of 130,000 to 175,000 for our little walk. Worldwide, the estimate is almost 3 million. That's also Hillary Clinton's margin of victory in the popular vote. (Crazy what you could've had/ Crazy what you could've had.) The organizers themselves estimate there were 4.8 million in the sister marches. 

One thing? I was a bit disappointed there wasn't more to do at the end of the march. I wanted the next step. I want to turn this people power into political power.

This morning, my friend Erika shared a link on social media about the next step: 10 actions in 100 days. I don't know if the march was the first or the uber step—the one that made the others possible—but the next step is simple: “Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you - and how you're going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead.” 

My postcard will probably begin with protecting the ACA/Medicare/Medicaid and go from there. I would love to see us outlaw all of the Ciitzens United dark money that is ruining our democracy, and calling out Mitch McConnell when (not if) he tries to protect his beautiful dark dollars—the only reason that asshat is still in office. Above all, I'd like accountability. If you have accountability, you don't have James Comey as FBI director, and Betsy DeVos isn't a nominee for Sec. of Education and Rex Tillerson isn't a nom for Sec. of State. You don't have Mitch McConnell. I would like an investigation into Russian influence into our election. I would like an investigation into why James Comey acted the way he did 10 days before the election. 

There's no end to their malfeasance. But this is the beginning of our fight. Yesterday, in the march, cramped in with tens of thousands of like-minded people, at times unable to move for the mass of humanity surrounding me, I was able to do something I hadn't been able to do well during the last few horrible months: I was able to breathe.

Women's March: Jan. 21, 2017

Me and Ward get ready to step out. 

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Posted at 02:28 PM on Jan 22, 2017 in category Politics
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Friday January 20, 2017

The Con Artist in Chief

“Barack Obama governed wisely and honestly, and presided over peace and prosperity, and was rewarded with an approval rating of 60 percent. He is being replaced by a swindler who has been consistently opposed by a clear majority of the public. This happened because of a combination of oddities and systemic abuses: an Electoral College system that allows the second-place candidate to win if his supporters happen to be distributed more optimally; the dramatic intervention of the FBI on behalf of the Republican challenger; the Twenty-second Amendment, which prevents the popular incumbent from running again. All these factors in combination have produced a dramatic transfer of power from a president who has won the support of a clear majority of the country to one who does not. ... 

In his presidential announcement speech in 2015, Trump hired actors to pretend to be supporters, and then, characteristically, refused to pay them. He boasted this week that he was writing his inauguration speech, even displaying a photo of himself purportedly working in Mar-a-Lago. (In a touch that could have come straight from a David Mamet film, the backdrop to Trump's speechwriting scene turns out to be a corridor, the desk belongs to an administrative staffer.) Trump is a con artist, and a very good one. It requires enormous talent of a kind to successfully identify and exploit new marks, for decades, without their catching on to you. Constantly luring new contractors, partners, and customers to place their faith in Trump so he can exploit them is a difficult ruse to sustain. ...

”The presidency raises the stakes of Trump's con game to a completely new level. ... But what happens when his grandiose promises fail to materialize? And when the aspects of his program that he never mentioned in his speech — tax cuts for the rich, stripping away health insurance from millions, massive graft — do take place? A con artist who always escaped his old victims and found new ones has reached the maximal limits of his strategy. What happens when the marks are demanding that the promises he made be redeemed, and there is nowhere for him to go, and he commands the powers of the state?“

-- Jonathan Chait, ”The System Has Failed and a Con Artist Has Won," New York Magazine

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Posted at 03:28 PM on Jan 20, 2017 in category Politics
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Fist First

“There was no poetry in the words delivered to a half-empty National Mall on Inauguration Day. ... What we got, coinciding with the first rain drops falling while Trump spoke to the nation he now leads, was a clenched fist — his own salute of nationalism and defiance, borrowed from political causes rooted in far different passions. He raised the fist while taking his place at the Capitol steps, and again at the close of a dark, soulless speech introducing himself as the leader of the free world.

”We might be able to ignore the fist had he mentioned liberty, the Constitution, equality for all, some joy note to American values. We might be able to give him a wider berth, an open heart, had he quoted Washington, from that humble first inaugural in 1789, or Lincoln, with his call to our better angels, or Kennedy's plea for a patriotism of selflessness.

“No, what we got was the clenched fist, to go with the rhetorical one: America first to fix American carnage.”

-- Timothy Egan, “A Clenched Fist for Day 1,” New York Times

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Posted at 02:40 PM on Jan 20, 2017 in category Politics
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The Asshat that Hate Produced

“Why Trump? Because, better than anyone else in the Republican field, he could appeal to the hatred of Obama that conservatives had spent years stoking.”

-- Matt Gurtz, Media Matters, “How Years Of The Right-Wing Media's Obama Hatred Paved The Way For Trump”

I would argue that James Comey and Vladimir Putin didn't help, but yes, this gets to the heart of it: the propaganda that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Matt Drudge and others promulgated from 2009 and 2016 led to this shameful moment in American history. That's on all of them. And that's why I get enraged when NPR gives airtime to folks at right-wing think tanks that blame Obama for the rise Trump. The fucking gall. But they got away with everything else, so they think they can get away with that, too. They won't.

Bless the people who are marching and protesting today, tomorrow, Sunday. Keep fighting the good fight.

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Posted at 02:29 PM on Jan 20, 2017 in category Politics
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Happy Birthday to Me

I turn 54 today. Happy birthday to me. 

My week has been bookended by a horrible case of stomach flu on Monday and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States today. The stomach flu went away after 24 hours. 

PigletPatricia got it first, in the middle of the night Sunday, so Monday morning I walked over to Bartell's and bought the usual necessities: Ginger ale, saltines, Excedrin. By the time I got back, I was feeling it, the nausea, then I lost it, then lost it again—both ways—for much of the next 12 hours. You know you're having a bad day when you don't know which end to face toward the toilet. I was a wreck, dehydrated, when about six o'clock, Patricia—who was feeling much better, thank you—crushed some ice for me. My mother used to do that when I got sick as a child. (Which was often; I was a sickly kid.) We had one of those hand-crank ice crushers in the cabinet: faded yellow on bottom and white on top. Anyway I asked for the crushed ice, Patrticia delivered, and the first cube sliver that melted in mouth tasted better than almost anything I'd eaten or drunk in my life. Amazing what deprivation will do for you. I thought, “Why isn't this enough? Why do we need to color it and sugar it and fizz it and liquor it up?” I know. Not exactly profound.

As bad as that was—and it was bad—today is worse. I don't have Barack Obama's optimism. I know the bad guys won. Not just Trump, but particularly Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, all the greedy little fuckers in service of the greedier big fuckers. I know the bad guys usually win. Everybody knows, as L. Cohen sang. I know most of us can't be bothered, then we look for scapegoats as to why things are so bad; and there are the little fuckers again to point out the marginalized to blame. It's amazing the levels of bullshit people buy into. I've said it before: America is a guy eating filet mignon telling a guy eating a baloney sandwich to resent the guy eating his crumbs. And he does. He blames the guy eating the crumbs. And he elects the guy eating the filet mignon. 

This is what we've got now: A thrice-married, bullying narcissist with ties to our greatest historical enemy, who during the campaign besmirched our military, our POWs, our allies, and a Gold Star family; who has gone through six bankruptcies but is seen as a business success; who kept threatening his opponent with jail and encouraged violence at his rallies and who had been caught on camera saying he liked to grab women by the pussy; this know-nothing vainglorious supercreep was elected our president by 63 million people. That's how many enemies I have in this country now. Anyone who voted for this turd is dead to me. Seriously, I can't even remember all the bad shit Trump did. Mocking a handicapped reporter—I can't believe I didn't allude to that one. The money that went to the Florida AG who dropped charges against Trump University. Trump University itself. Trump fillets. The USFL. “If Ivanka weren't my daughter I'd be dating her.” Ugly shit from an ugly man.  

The lefties, too. Jesus. The people who couldn't get behind Hillary—the Susan Sarandons of the world. Last Saturday, I went to a meeting for a rally today being organized by Kshamna Sawant, a socialist on Seattle's City Council, and the first speaker was an assistant from her office, some woman with a small voice who read her speech to us like an 11th grader reading a book report. In that speech, which was supposed to ignite us and ready us for anti-Trump rallies, she took potshots at both Hillary and Pres. Obama, and lauded Bernie. Hello? Common enemy? I left after five minutes. 

Crazy what you could've had. Crazy what you could've had.

See you on the other side. 

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Posted at 08:35 AM on Jan 20, 2017 in category Politics
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